After a seven year hiatus, Gerard Westhoff listens to the recently reunited indie band’s eponymous new album.
Despite already having had two top twenty albums, The Ordinary Boys didn’t shoot into the mainstream until lead singer Samuel Preston’s appearance on Celebrity Big Brother and subsequent ill-fated marriage to fellow contestant Chantelle Houghton. A hilariously awkward guest spot on an episode of music quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks followed, culminating in enough exposure to get the band their highest charting UK single, Boys Will Be Boys.
However, their transient time near the top wasn’t enough to stave off a poorly received third album, How to Get Everything You Ever Wanted in Ten Easy Steps. As such, the band called it a day in 2008 and Preston went on to build a successful career as a songwriter, most notably penning Olly Murs’ number one single Heart Skips A Beat.
Since 2013, the band has officially reformed and seemingly regained their youthful energetic sound as demonstrated in their well-received 2014 Autumn Tour. However, their comeback album shows that even with more polished song writing, their charm still evades them.
The eponymous album’s lead single Four Letter Word is your standard catchy youth-orientated indie-pop by the numbers affair – unexciting at first, but has glimpses of potential when you imagine it being echoed by a large crowd. Sadly, it’s the first impression that sets the tone for much of the album. For example, Awkward simply describes the teenage experience of struggling to speak to a crush in verse, tacking on a big chorus. As such it results in an uninteresting take on a very common experience, what could have been relatable is merely forgettable. I’m Leaving You (And I’m Taking You with Me) is the undeniable highlight, but still falls short of the distinctive Ordinary Boys classics such as Boys Will Be Boys and I Luv U.
Despite its high energy and a few stand out tracks, as the album progresses the songs become bland, repetitive, and well, quite ordinary. Boys, I wouldn’t really call it a comeback. With the lack of major label support not even the novelty of an independent record label release can disguise the absence of innovative new material.
The band has seemingly ditched their early punk and ska-influenced sound, in favour of seeking confirmation in the increasingly homogenous ‘alternative’ music genre. The result is a successful assimilation to the generic indie band trope – territory that is dominated by presumably ‘cooler’ and more relevant bands like The Vaccines. At this point, it hardly seems worthwhile for The Ordinary Boys to try and compete with the indie clones of today, Big Brother isn’t even on Channel Four anymore, and times have changed.
The Ordinary Boys was released on October 2nd and the band are currently touring.
Featured Image: Treat Yourself Records